RCZ is a thing of beauty

Bobby Cheetham

YOU have to give it to the French, when it comes to beautiful things, they are tops in their fields. And the new Peugeot RCZ Sports Coupe is a shining example of French flair and design.

The two-door benefits from a completely redesigned frontend, which now expresses the latest, contemporary Peugeot design language.

The rest of the distinctive and aerodynamic shape remains largely unchanged.

The RCZ's sporty and driver-orientated cockpit benefits from a smarter finish with high-gloss lacquer and brushed aluminium.

There is also a new infotainment system that has a large, 18cm 16:9 colour screen as its centrepiece. The new system features enhanced navigation functionality, versatile multi-source audio playback, and Bluetooth connectivity.

The manual-transmission RCZ 1.6 Manual retains the proven and popular 147kW, high-pressure turbocharged version of Peugeot's 1.6-litre petrol engine, linked to a six-speed manual gearbox, and front-wheel drive.

For those seeking the convenience of an automatic transmission, linked to the style and agility of the RCZ execution, the new RCZ 1.6 Auto employs a six-speed automatic gearbox, coupled to a 115kW version of the same 1.6-litre four-cylinder powerplant.

The RCZ Coupe provides a comprehensive array of advanced safety features, ranging from latest-generation stability and traction control to latest-generation ABS brakes, an active rear spoiler, as well as front and chest/pelvis airbags for both occupants.

Most of the design changes are focused on the front end.

At the core of the redesign is a stronger, more succinct grille, framed on either side by redesigned headlights, and accompanied by a reshaped bonnet and a new front bumper.

The manual-gearbox derivative is powered by an efficient, 1.6-litre engine with four valves per cylinder. The four-cylinder unit is high pressure-turbocharged, and as a result, maximum power equates to 147kW in an engine speed band between 5500 and 6800rpm.

The accompanying torque peak is a quoted 275Nm, already on tap from 1700rpm, and sustained all the way to 4500rpm. This engine is only available in tandem with a quick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, which in turn delivers the available urge to the front wheels.

In this guise, the RCZ 1.6 Manual dashes from zero to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds, and achieves a top speed of 240km/h. The 115kW power maximum is reached at 6000rpm, linked to a torque peak of 240Nm between 1400 and 4500rpm. The RCZ 1.6 THP Automatic is credited with a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 8.4 seconds, and achieves a 213km/h top speed.

The recommended retail pricing of the new Peugeot RCZ is R423500 for the 1.6 THP Automatic, and R434900 for the 1.6 THP Manual.